How to Calculate Future Damages in a Pennsylvania Injury Claim

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    When you file an injury claim, your damages will cover things like medical expenses and lost wages that you suffered while you were healing up from the injury.  However, many injuries will affect you for longer, and the damages you face could extend beyond the settlement or trial date.  As such, you will need to take those future damages into account.

    Pennsylvania law allows you to claim future damages for any reasonable expenses that you can prove you will face.  This includes additional medical care, lost wages and earnings going into the future, and the pain and suffering you will continue to face.  We can calculate some of these damages quite simply, but others will require help from expert witnesses to explain how sure we are that these damages will arise and how much they will cost.

    Call our Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 for a free analysis of your injury case.

    What Future Damages Can You Claim in a Pennsylvania Injury Case?

    Injury cases in Pennsylvania usually involve compensation in three major areas: medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.  There may be additional damages you can also claim for other “economic damages,” like the cost of childcare while you go to your doctor’s appointments or the cost of home adaptations to deal with a disability.  There are also other “non-economic” damages like disfigurement damages that you can claim alongside pain and suffering.  In most cases, you can make a claim for these damages both for the past/current damages as well as future damages.

    Our West Chester personal injury lawyers can include the value of any future costs or expenses that we can prove you are expected to face, but the focus will be on your medical bills and lost wages.

    On top of these, you might now be facing pain and suffering every day because of the injury.  This does not stop just because you got paid, and the future damages you claim in your case should include these costs in the calculation.

    Calculating Future Damages and Expenses in a Pennsylvania Injury Lawsuit

    The method of calculating these damages will depend on what specific area of damages we are talking about.  However, there are a couple of principles that apply to all of these damages.

    First, we have to take into account how inflation affects the value of money over time.  This has a complex effect on legal settlements, but suffice to say that it adds additional calculations into the mix.

    Second, we have to make sure that our calculations and projections are backed up by evidence and good math.  Courts can only award future damages that you can reasonably prove, so we need strong evidence to back up our claim.

    Otherwise, each of the following types of damages has unique factors in calculating the value of future damages:

    Medical Expenses

    Before we can claim the cost of future medical care, we need to show the court what future medical care you will need.  This is usually proven by having doctors and medical experts testify as to how your condition and needs will change over time.

    In many cases, doctors might not be able to tell something as complex as how long you have to live or how many years it will be until your condition worsens.  However, they can make a reasonably fair analysis based on data and evidence.

    Then, we can compare the treatments you will need to the current cost of those treatments, project what they will cost in the future, and include those values in your claims.  We can use current medical bills and billing amounts to project the cost of these care needs going forward.  In the case of something recurring like monthly medication costs, the math is much easier.

    Lost Earnings

    A disability could affect your ability to work in three common ways.  First, it could totally disable you and keep you from working ever again.  Second, it could partially disable you and stop you from being able to do your current job but allow you to go back to work making a lower wage than before.  Lastly, it could keep you out of work for some time, but you might be able to return to the workforce in a few years (at full or partial capacity).

    Each of these will affect how much you can earn in the future, and we will need to take this into account.  Usually, we can calculate reduced income by looking at what your wages are now compared to what they were before the injury and using that difference in our calculations.

    In any case, there are some difficult projections to make that we might need to hire economic experts to help with.  For example, if you were going to keep working at your job for another 40 years until retirement age, you might have gotten raises and promotions in that period.  Now that you are missing out on them, we need to take those into account in the calculation as well.  We also need to project how many more years you would have worked, given your health and age before the accident.

    Non-Economic Damages

    The Rules of Civil Procedure give suggested jury instructions with an explanation of the law and how to decide things like damages.  Under Rule 223.3’s suggested jury instructions for non-economic damages, there is an explanation specifically referring to both past and future non-economic damages.

    Under these rules, juries can take into account your pain and suffering, the effect that embarrassment/humiliation has on you, lost enjoyment of activities and other “pleasures of life,” and the effect of scarring or other “disfigurement.”  All in all, these damages are usually simplified by using one of two calculation methods.

    First, the court can assign a per-day cost to your pain and suffering.  Since we are projecting a value into the future, we do not know how many more days you will experience pain and suffering, so using a per-day value is hard.  Instead, we can simply use a multiplier based on how bad your non-economic damages are and apply that to the rest of the damages in your case.  For example, a moderate injury case might involve 2 times the rest of your economic damages being paid as non-economic damages.

    We can also adjust this presumptive calculation to better apply to your specific case.

    Call Our Pennsylvania Injury Attorneys Today

    For a free case assessment with The Reiff Law Firm’s Philadelphia personal injury attorneys, call (215) 709-6940.

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    Philadelphia, PA 19102
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